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N.C. State Lands Tide Transfer Lacey

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 4:59pm

N.C. State already holds two Class of 2014 hoops commitments, and Mark Gottfried effectively added a third with Trevor Lacey. A 6-3, 215-pound wing guard, Lacey transferred from Alabama this past spring. He’ll sit out the 2013-14 campaign in Raleigh and enjoy two seasons of eligibility with the ‘Pack beginning the following year.

Lacey also considered Pitt, Miami and UNC, making his re-recruitment a truly ACC affair. The Tar Heels backed out after Theo Pinson recently committed, but Lacey is good enough to have helped any of the programs on his list. His uncle, Howard Pride, worked as an administrative assistant for Gottfried at Alabama in 1998-99, Gottfried’s first season in Tuscaloosa. Thus, the Lacey family’s familiarity with the Wolfpack head man spans more than a decade.

Lacey was Alabama’s second-leading scorer last season, averaging 11.3 points per game for a team that scored only 63 points per contest. He also spearheaded the club’s strong defense, utilizing his immense strength to overpower ball-handlers and crush attempted screen-setters.

And that playing style represented a departure from Lacey’s prep career. The Alabama native poured in huge numbers in his home state and generally was considered a national top-50 prospect. He teamed with Austin Rivers and others for Each 1 Teach 1 on the Nike EYBL circuit, and he regularly erupted for three-point barrages.

For the Crimson Tide, however, Lacey became a more rounded player. He certainly contributed three-point shooting — knocking down 62 threes last year at a solid 37 percent clip — but brought more than three assists to the table per night along with his tough defense. During his prep days I’d felt concern at his apparent stationary game, and while not an elite slasher, he has proven that even ordinary lateral quickness can enable a player to succeed if he competes with skill, power and vigor.

So why did Lacey depart Tuscaloosa? Anthony Grant doesn’t appear to be in any trouble there, and he would have been the team’s leading returning scorer.

Lacey actually played some point guard for the Tide last season, but his family did not view that position as his future and encouraged their son to seek a better playing style fit. The Wolfpack certainly operate at a higher tempo — they ranked No. 80 in pace last season according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, compared with Alabama at No. 320 — and Lacey therefore should receive more scoring opportunities for that reason alone, if nothing else.

He’ll also carry a significant strength and experience advantage over 2014 wing commitments Caleb and Cody Martin, so winning a starting position should be attainable.

But LSU transfer Ralston Turner will be a senior when Lacey becomes eligible, as will juco signee Desmond Lee. The ‘Pack also conceivably could opt for an all-point guard backcourt, given the talent and pedigree possessed by Tyler Lewis and Anthony Barber. Lacey’s path to big minutes and production thus doesn’t lay before him without obstruction, but greater opportunity sometimes carries greater risk.